Clemson Paralympic Soccer Creative Inquiry

Skye Arthurbanning, Kirsten Windbiel, Molly Oroho, Olivia McNelly, Ramneek Chhatwal, and Isabelle Dodson


Clemson Paralympic Soccer Creative Inquiry students are given many unique opportunities to become emerging leaders at Clemson University through their adaptive soccer programming. The class’s main mission is to run adaptive soccer camps for veterans with disabilities. Each camp allows the veterans to be exposed to adaptive sports opportunities with a focus on soccer but many other sports as well. In 2020-2021, the program will seek to run 15 camps all over the United States.  Students are involved with planning the camps, working directly with the injured military veterans, and collecting data surrounding best practices, program evaluation, and impact. Students learn how to network in order to recruit participants for our various programs as well as engage in active communication with professionals nationally. In addition to our camps, students have composed grants to start a program seeking to lessen the detrimental effects of isolation for our injured military veteran partners. Furthermore, we host a residential training program, featuring two of our athletes from the paralympic soccer team, in which students have the opportunity to help with the training sessions. Many students have been able to publish articles about varying topics in adaptive sports, including publications on the International Federation of Cerebral Palsy Football website. There are several certifications offered to students that can be utilized outside of the university and CI experience. These include specialized Mental Health First Aid and the Blaze Adaptive Sports training. Finally, professional development has become a large part of our program, helping students understand how to condense their CI experience into useful skills to market themselves in the professional world.

Residential Training Program

Fall 2021 Class

  • Clemson University has recently singed two additional fall 2021 recruits, Kevin George McCandish and Gavin Kohner who will join Shea Hammond and Tim Huff with the Paralympic Soccer Residential Training Program (RTP).
  • RTP is an incredible opportunity for athletes with disabilities that allows players to continue playing collegiate soccer while earning their degree. These players receive in-state tuition waivers in form of an athletic scholarship.
  • Clemson is the only school with a program like this, preparing players for the US Para National Team and is an incredible opportunity for soccer players with disabilities.

VA Camps

  • Students recruit participants nationally, practicing their communication and outreach skills.
  • While planning each camp, we have to diligently prepare to accommodate for varying disabilities, promoting inclusivity in our everyday lives.
  • Participants can earn a grassroots coaching certification and MHFA certification, as well as introduced to many community involvement opportunities.
  • Athletes are introduced to adaptive sports and they can take their skills from camp, including both athletic and mental skills, and influence others.

Approximate Number of Veterans Served

Other Opportunities

  • Professional Development
    • Grant writing
    • Learning how to make connections and uphold professional relationships
    • Resume building and interview practice
    • The ability to tailor involvement to better suit personal goals
  • Experience working with people with disabilities
    • Insight on inclusivity
    • Understanding how disabilities work and how they affect everyday life
    • Introduction to adaptive weight training as well as other adaptive activities
    • Practice with activity modification to better suit different abilities

Students learning about applying various modifications to their coaching.

  • Blaze Adaptive Sports: Certified Adaptive Recreation and Sports Specialist (CARSS): 
    • CARSS reflects more accurately where the field of adaptive sports and recreation has evolved.
    • Core content areas of the CARSS certification include:
      • History of adaptive sports & related laws; understanding disabilities & disability awareness; program planning, implementation & evaluation; risk management & injury prevention; partnership building; recruitment & promotion; and adaptive equipment and facilities.
  • Publication Opportunities
    • Many students have published several articles on varying topics in the adaptive sport community

Student Publications

Marissa Kuula

Participant Takes: Clemson Paralympic Soccer

Running Through It All: A Spotlight on William Greer

Makenzie Camlin

These Athletes #CanPlay: Paralympic Soccer Joined Forces for World CP Day

Young Suk Oh and Margaret Domka

University-Based Adaptive Sport Camps as a Model for Engaging Injured Military Veterans in Community Development

SWOT analysis on the potential growth of Football 5-a-side programme across the United States: an exploratory case study approach for athletes with visual impairment

Kirsten Windbiel

Clemson Paralympic Soccer signs recruits

Christopher Reeves Foundation

  • Christopher Reeves was the original Superman actor. He sustained a spinal cord injury after an accident and became a face for spinal cord injuries and started this foundation to increase awareness and federal funding towards paralysis.
  • In our program, “Tutor, Talk, & Train”, participants will:
    • Provide volunteer tutoring services to elementary school children
    • Earn a Mental Health First Aid certification
    • Participate in weekly adaptive yoga, adaptive strength training, and additional adaptive sport opportunities
    • Contribute to a monthly book and movie club
    • Build camaraderie and friendships through a monthly virtual dinner
  • Provides an opportunity for Veterans with paralysis to participate in a 12-month virtual program intended to decrease the negative effects of social isolation while promoting mental and physical health.

Research Findings and Impact

In a survey of 75 virtual campers from 2020-2021 97% agreed or strongly agreed that they were confident in their ability to reach out to someone who may be dealing with a mental health problem, substance use challenge, or crisis after camp.

“The Mental Health & First Aid training was extremely helpful in identifying things going on within myself as well as in others and how to support other people in times of distress or crisis.”

“I, for the first time in my life, was called an athlete, have now fully realized that consistent pursuit within myself, and recognize that I was not giving myself credit of my sporting ventures in the past (from early age to now my mid-40s) that I’ve always been an athlete and it took this program to restore that faith in myself and my abilities.”

“The Mental Health & First Aid training was extremely helpful in identifying things going on within myself as well as in others and how to support other people in times of distress or crisis. I would definitely recommend keeping this in as part of future programs. I also loved the variety of different coaches that attended and the expert opinions, skills, and advice they were able to provide us. Great descriptions and coaching strategies of each type of para soccer discussed.”

“I thought there was a wealth and diversity of information in this course and taking it with others opened my eyes to the ideas that people more educated and experienced or with different education/experience are having regarding adaptive sport. Having a group of people and covering the variety of knowledge that you did really worked for me at least”

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